The inclusion of the phrase “sharing knowledge” in the updated mission statement for Waubonsee Community College may seem obvious for an institution of higher education. However, that concept means more to us than a traditional view of sharing knowledge through virtual or physical classroom space.
We view sharing knowledge as a mutual exchange of ideas, experiences and perspectives where all participants are simultaneously teacher and learner. Sharing knowledge is pivotal, transformational, and a key ingredient for building community. Sharing knowledge is the passageway to building trust, so people feel welcomed and empowered to engage in learning. Sharing knowledge opens doors for all who seek to understand themselves and their communities better.
In addition to knowledge sharing that occurs in the traditional sense of the classroom setting, Waubonsee provides many opportunities for students, employees and community members to share knowledge outside the classroom. Our many student clubs and organizations provide leadership opportunities as well as an opportunity to share knowledge surrounding a particular interest or passion. Waubonsee’s Council for Access and Inclusion plans a variety of events and activities, such as our recent inaugural Juneteenth celebration, in support of our diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives.
Our annual tree-planting and other Arbor Day activities promote the sharing of knowledge related to the many natural resources on our beautiful campuses. I also think of our June 2022 Featured Alumnus Rosa Brolley, a first-generation daughter of Mexican immigrants and a passionate educator in Indian Prairie School District 204. She lives to teach students from around the world that diversity is beautiful and valuable. As a young woman, Brolley did not yet feel she belonged in the college world. Someone at her high school shared knowledge about the Waubonsee Community College Gustafson Scholarship. Brolley was awarded the scholarship and enrolled, becoming involved in Latinos Unidos and serving as a Student Ambassador. Currently, she is an English language learner teacher at Peterson Elementary in Indian Prairie School District 204. She is the first in her family to attend and graduate from college. Brolley hopes to continue to share knowledge and be the teacher her younger self desperately needed.
And certainly, we are proud to have outstanding faculty as part of our Waubonsee Community College team. Faculty members like our 2022 Outstanding Faculty Member, Denise Nakaji, professor of therapeutic massage, and many others have received recognition for their dedication to student success. Professor Nakaji firmly believes in and is committed to ongoing professional development. She has taken more than 2,000 contact hours of coursework and continuing education to enhance her massage therapy skills. The effective way Nakaji shares knowledge with her students is best demonstrated through the Waubonsee Massage and Bodywork Licensing Examination pass rate, which is 100% for the graduating classes of 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020. By comparison, the national average pass rate is 73%.
Sharing knowledge opens doors for individuals to change their perspectives and embrace a new future. Every day, our dedicated and talented faculty combine their love of teaching with a passion for sharing knowledge and contributing to student success. Sharing knowledge keeps learning alive and relevant and creates space to invite students to share their knowledge, encouraging them to pursue future growth. Everyone knows the adage, “You’re never too old to stop learning.” I would adapt to say, “At Waubonsee, you’re never too young or too old for sharing knowledge.”
• Christine J. Sobek is president of Waubonsee Community College.